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Whether you have implants or not it is extremely important to be familiar with your breasts so that you can easily notice if something looks or feels out of the ordinary.
Woman that do have breast implants need to be aware of what is their own implant and scar tissue while still being thorough when carrying out their own breast self-examination. It would be helpful to have your MYA surgeon or clinic nurse identify the edges of the implants, so you are comfortable with what you are feeling. Some implant placements can push out the breast tissue, which can help make the breast self-examination easier (BSE).
Do not examine your own breast when healing (up to 6weeks post op) or when they are tender or swollen, which tends to be when you are menstruating. However carrying out breast self-examination monthly is perfect as many women choose the week after their period, as it is easy to remember if you are on a monthly cycle.
What are you looking for?
• A mass that is painless, hard and has irregular edges
• Dimpling or puckering of the skin
• Changes to the nipple; inverted, discoloured or discharge
• Pain in the breast
• Skin that appears bruised
If you have any of these systems please seek medical advice from you GP.
How to perform BSE
1. Lie down flat and put your left arm under your head. Use your right hand to examine your breast. With your 3 middle fingers flat, move gently in small circular motions over the whole breast, checking for any lumps or thickening tissue. Use different levels of pressure but do not press to hard or squeeze. Once you have checked the whole breast from your collarbone down below the breast to your rib cage, switch arms and repeat on the other breast.
2,. Stand up straight in front of a mirror looking at your breasts, with your hands on your hips. Look for lumps, new differences in size and shape. Skin or nipple changes as listed above.
3. Raise one arm at a time and check in your arm pit the same way you did your breast with 3 fingers flat in circular motions, checking for lumps.
4. Squeeze the nipple of each breast gently using your thumb and index finger, you are checking for discharge or fluid leaving the nipple.
Should you have concerns or come across the above systems please seek medical advice from your GP. Sharing this information is important to help raise awareness that we can be proactive catching the signs of cancer early.
Can you have a mammogram when you have breast implants?
A Mammogram is a screening procedure to look deep into the breast tissue. Mammograms can detect a lump well before it can be felt. During a mammogram breasts are subject to hard compression which is why it is important to discuss the fact you have breast implants with the technician and your GP prior. Please do not worry, your implants will not be harmed as it will be carried out by a trained mammography technician who is experienced in dealing with patients who have implants. Extra images will also be taken to ensure all breast tissue is covered. The process should not be painful and only takes a few minutes to complete.
Annual mammograms are recommended for woman over 50years, every 2 years for woman ages between 40 and 50 years and depending upon medical history younger woman may decide to have one also. Mammograms are normally arranged through your GP but can be carried out privately at a cost.